Definition of Terms

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Australian Forest Certification Scheme (AFCS)

The Australian Forest Certification Scheme uses the Australian Forestry Standard (AFS) and certifies extensive areas of native forests and plantations across Australia. The AFCS also includes a Chain of Custody Standard to track forest and wood products throughout the supply chain.  The AFS is endorsed by the world's biggest assessor of sustainable forest management, the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

AFCS has a number of limitations and Planet Ark is committed to working to improve its criteria through the scheme's review process, now underway. All NGOs are encouraged to participate in these efforts to ensure that Australian consumers can purchase certified wood products in Australia with confidence. 

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Biodiversity is the variety of all life forms - plants, animals and microorganisms, their genes and the ecosystems they inhabit. ‘Genetic diversity' is the diversity within each species, ‘species diversity' is the variety among species, and ‘ecosystem diversity' is the diversity of different communities formed by living organisms and the relations among them.



Carbon is an element contained in all organic molecules. Carbon is stored on the Earth in different ways. When carbon is in the atmosphere it takes the form of carbon dioxide.  If too much carbon dioxide (CO2) builds up in the atmosphere it acts as a warming agent contributing to climate change.  Trees can help restore a balance through the carbon cycle by absorbing carbon dioxide, storing it as carbon and releasing oxygen.  Wood products store carbon for life.

Carbon dioxide (CO2)

Carbon dioxide is a molecule made up of one carbon atom joined to two oxygen atoms. It is a major gas in the Earth's atmosphere. If too much carbon dioxide (CO2) builds up in the atmosphere it acts as a warming agent contributing to climate change.

Carbon sequestration

Carbon sequestration is the removal and storage of carbon from the atmosphere into vegetation and soils, including forests and wood products.


Clearfelling is the lopping and removal of all or most of the tree cover and associated understorey from a forested or vegetated area.


A clearing is an area where all or most of the tree cover & associated understorey has been removed and the land use changed eg. for agriculture or urban & industrial development.



An ecosystem is any biological community and its non-living environment, including all the plants and animals in an area together with the air, land and water with which they interact.

Embodied energy

Embodied energy represents the total amount of energy consumed by all of the processes associated with the production of an item from the harvesting or mining and processing of natural resources to their manufacturing, transport and delivery. In terms of buildings this refers to the building materials used but does not include the ongoing operation of the building or the disposal of the building material. Embodied energy is the ‘upstream' or ‘front-end' component of the lifecycle impact of a home or building.

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A forest is considered a land area, incorporating all living and non-living components, dominated by trees usually having a single stem and a mature or potentially mature stand height exceeding 2 metres, and with existing or potential crown cover of overstorey strata about equal to or greater than 20%. This definition includes native forests and plantations and areas of trees that are sometimes described as woodlands.

Forest products

Forest products are raw materials from forests, including timber, timber products and other forest materials (such as rock, stone, clay, sand, gravel).

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international network, which promotes responsible management of the world's forests - it brings people together to find solutions to the problems created by bad forestry practices and to reward good forest management.

The FSC uses internationally agreed FSC Principles of Responsible Forest Management to enable FSC accredited certification bodies to issue a certificate for any forestry operation that meets their requirements. The system also includes Chain of Custody certification so that the source of timber can be traced back to its point of origin and forest management certification based on a set of global principles and criteria.

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Global warming

Global warming is the expected consequence of an increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by human activity (see greenhouse gases).

Greenhouse effect

The greenhouse effect is the warming of the Earth's surface due to increases in radiated energy trapped by higher levels of atmospheric gases, including carbon dioxide, due primarily to the combustion of fossil fuels.

Greenhouse gases

Greenhouse gases are atmospheric gases that enhance the greenhouse effect, including carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), nitrous oxide, ozone and water vapour.  They come mainly from the burning of fossil fuels and contribute to the greenhouse effect and global warming.


High Conservation Value Forests (HCVFs)

According to the Forest Stewardship Council, High Conservation Value Forests are those that possess one or more of the following attributes:

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Logging is the process of cutting down trees for wood. Also see harvesting.



Monoculture is when one type or species of plant is cultivated in an area, for example plantations of a single species of tree or cornfields.

Multiple use forest management

Multiple use forest management is when an area has a balanced range of uses such as wood production, recreation, water catchment protection and flora & fauna preservation.



Photosynthesis is the chemical reaction in green plants that uses carbon dioxide, water and sunlight to produce food (glucose).


A plantation is a forest established by people through planting seedlings or seeds of exotic or native species. They are typically characterised by straight lines and even-aged stands of trees.

Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)

The Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is an international certification scheme that provides endorsement of individual national forest certification schemes, such as the AFCS. Forest managers, processors and merchants certified under the AS 4707 (AFS Chain of Custody Standard) can use the PEFC logo in addition to the AFS.

Like AFCS, this scheme has a number of limitations and Planet Ark believes it should be improved to ensure better forest protection and consumer confidence.

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Reforestation is the replanting of a forest on cleared, degraded or destroyed forest areas.


Regeneration is the process of growing new trees on areas previously forested, whether naturally or planted.


Regrowth is a forest stand established by natural regeneration after logging.


Sustainable Forest Management (SFM)

Sustainable Forest Management is the management of our private and public forests to ensure forests continue to provide a sound supply of renewable timber for present and future generations.

Sustainable Yield

Sustainable yield is when the amount of trees removed from a forest must at least equal the amount a forest is able to replace naturally.



Wood is the hard, fibrous inner part of tree trunks, branches and stems. It is the tissue that lies underneath the bark of a plant.